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WHAT WILL MY DONATION DO?

Your donation will help provide safe, clean, affordable housing for people currently without.

Gratitude Week will ensure that every possible dollar donated goes directly to the renovation of two buildings in the Downtown East Side that will make a measurable contribution to End Homelessness Now. The expectation is that these projects will in the very near future transition people into a better quality of life by providing safe, clean and affordable living conditions.

The Situation

There are two hotels in the Downtown Eastside that are owned by the Province of British Columbia. The former Pender Hotel, which is currently unoccupied, and the Gastown Hotel which houses 97 people in deplorable conditions. The Province of BC has allocated funds to renovate the Pender Hotel. However, now that funds raised during Gratitude Week are being directed to the Pender Hotel renovations, money that was slated for the Pender will be redirected towards renovations at the Gastown Hotel. For each dollar raised for the Pender Hotel during Gratitude Week, an equivalent amount of money will be allocated to the Gastown Hotel so the precise dollar amounts for each project will be determined once the fundraising campaign is completed. By redirecting funds to the Gastown Hotel in this manner means renovations will begin well ahead of schedule. BC Housing will be in charge of managing the renovations at both buildings.

Gratitude House – 31 W Pender Street

Formerly known as the Pender Hotel, this single room occupancy (SRO) hotel once had 40 tiny rooms with people sharing bathrooms and amenities. It is currently vacant. Our plan is to provide funds to convert this currently unoccupied building into a total of 23 self-contained, livable suites; each with their own private washroom facilities and rename it Gratitude House. See the progress of the renovation on the Multivista website. The renovation of this building is scheduled to begin in October 2009 and is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2010. It will be operated by the BC Native Housing Society.

Hotel Gastown – 110 Water Street

This 7 storey brick and timber structure currently houses 97 residents in deplorable and thoroughly unthinkable living conditions.

Our goal is to provide funds so that the top 5 storeys of the building will be renovated, including the addition of common cooking and laundry facilities. This will greatly enhance and improve the tenants’ quality of life, general health and overall well being. This building will be operated by Atira Property Management.

2009 HIGHLIGHTS

If not now, when?

The first ever Gratitude Week to End Homelessness closed Friday, October 16, 2009 with a break in the rain and a moving speech by Mayor Gregor Robertson on the grounds of the Plaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery. But even though the week is officially over, the commitment and resolve from the citizens of Vancouver continues to grow.

In just 5 short days, Gratitude Week accomplished what it set out to do which was to begin a new “conversation” about homelessness and provide a way for ordinary citizens to become actively engaged in helping to end homelessness now.

Gratitude Week received unprecedented support from all parts of the community. From classes of elementary schoolchildren who traveled to the Vancouver Art Gallery to add their signs to the Gratitude Wall, through seniors who came down to serve as enthusiastic volunteers. And everyone in between.

Vancouver’s film and creative community was very well represented, and helped inspire other industry sectors to get involved.

An active and engaged volunteer Organizing Committee devoted countless hours and their diverse range of talents to establish a benchmark of what can be accomplished when the will is there to do so.

Highlights

The Wall of Gratitude

This was an art installation on the grounds of The Vancouver Art Gallery created for, and by, the people of Vancouver. Over the course of 5 days, (some that were pouring with rain!) people came down and added their personal and heartfelt messages of gratitude. The Gratitude Wall was so well received that plans are currently being developed to turn it into a traveling exhibit so people in communities all over the Lower Mainland can add their messages.

The Gratitude Gathering

This public forum featured a variety of stakeholders that were on hand to educate the public on the critical work and services they provide to the community on the  Downtown Eastside.

Mental Health Awareness Forums

A series of engaging and informative public forums presented by leading practitioners in the field of mental health provided visitors with an opportunity to learn and ask questions about mental health and substance abuse issues and their direct correlation with homelessness.

The University Street Collection

Students from SFU, Douglas College, Capilano College and Vancouver Film School staged an early morning street collection across the Lower Mainland to raise awareness and donations for Gratitude Week.

The Placard Project

Dedicated volunteers came out to greet commuters on their way to work with a smile and a personal message of gratitude to raise awareness about the problems of homelessness. This concept took an unexpected direction when people began taking photos of themselves holding their signs and posting them to Twitter to get the word out even more.

Give a Dollar. Give a Damn.

This call to action was given an interesting twist when a group of well known Vancouver personalities donated their time to make a video for Gratitude Week. Actress Helen Shaver, blues legend Jim Byrnes, anchorman Tony Parsons, Rock 101’s Bro Jake, the X-Files’ William B. Davis, Urban Rush’s Fiona Forbes and a variety of other celebrities challenged every person in Vancouver to give just one dollar to end homelessness.

Yogal For Gratitude

Yoga for the People hosted a Yoga Jam in support of Gratitude Week. Participants attended to express their gratitude through yoga and all proceeds were donated to Gratitude Week.

The Mala Collaboration

This was an online collaboration exploring the question: How do we end homelessness now? Through discussion boards, posts and debates, the Mala Collaboration was, and continues to be, a valuable tool in allowing people to become engaged in finding ways to end homelessness now.

 Media Coverage

The media, of all types, print, radio and TV, came out in full force to support the novel concept and goal of Gratitude Week. The media supported Gratitude Week in the form of sponsorship (The Vancouver Sun, Global TV, Rock101 and CKNW) as well as by way of articles, radio and TV interviews with our Founder, Ron Josephson, and our executive Director, Lara Holte, and other members of the Organizing Committee. This extensive coverage of Gratitude Week helped spread the word to the citizens of Vancouver that there was a way for them to be involved in the fight to End Homelessness Now.

Funds Raised

Statistics indicate that charitable giving across the board is down significantly throughout Canada and North America. Yet despite this fact, the people of Vancouver managed to donate over $175,000 to the cause of ending homelessness. And donations continue to come in from various donors and ongoing projects.

A number of schools throughout the Lower Mainland are still engaged in on-going fundraising activities to help End Homelessness Now. In addition, various sponsors continue to make contributions on a “per transaction” basis for periods of time.

While fund-raising continues to be an integral element of Gratitude Week, and donations continue to come in, Gratitude Week was always about more than the money. It was equally important to foster active public engagement on the issues as a way to create sustainable change and End Homelessness Now.

There’s still work to do

Following the resounding success of this first year, Gratitude Week is already beginning active planning for next year’s Gratitude Week to End Homelessness. This is your opportunity to get involved, volunteer your time and talent, or share your ideas on what YOU think would make next year’s Gratitude Week even better. We invite you to contact Gratitude Week today.

Get Involved

Each one of us can do one thing today to
end homelessness now.

Gratitude Week is a vehicle for ordinary people in Vancouver to make something happen to end homelessness now. It is a way to enable individual citizens to do something tangible in the fight against homelessness. Our Provincial Government and the City are making enormous strides in providing long-term solutions to the problem. A number of non-governmental agencies and charitable organizations are also doing amazing work towards the same goal. We commend them for their work and support their efforts.

The missing piece has been the involvement of the entire community, rather than the committed few who have been doing wonderful work for so long with limited resources. Each one of us can do something today to end homelessness now.

There are any number of ways you can contribute. And we don’t just mean by opening your wallet. Check out the links below to see what you can do.

Why now

We all have something to be grateful for.

A job, a friend, a place to live. It is often our fundamental securities that we take for granted. When we take away the presumption of assuming someone’s story, we can acknowledge that in our beautiful city, no one should have to be homeless. From this insight of gratitude for our basic needs being met, we can create an environment where we no longer ignore the problem or pass on the responsibility of dealing with it. It is precisely these feelings of gratitude that make us want to work with those already on the front lines in the fight against homelessness. The Provincial and City governments are allocating substantial sums to address the problems. In addition, there are other agencies and organizations already fully engaged in projects to end homelessness and there are people who dedicate their lives, day in and day out, to help those who live on the streets. The mission of Gratitude Week is to complement these existing efforts by involving the citizens of Vancouver and also raising funds from ordinary citizens. These dollars will have an impact far beyond their monetary value. These dollars represent the will of the people of Vancouver to end homelessness now.

Learn more about the many organizations who are helping end homelessness now

This is not somebody else’s problem.

Vancouver is one of the most prosperous and desirable places in the world to live. Yet we have more than 2,600 people living on our streets. We all know homelessness is something that must end, but the problem keeps growing. And while the issues of homelessness are complex and sometimes contentious, the reality is that until people have their basic needs of safe, clean affordable housing and shelter met, the larger and more difficult issues cannot be addressed.

This is our campaign, we can all get involved.

The concept of Gratitude Week began almost two years with Ron Josephson, the Founder of Gratitude Week, bringing together a group of ordinary Vancouverites who wanted to make a tangible difference in the fight against homelessness. Today, Gratitude Week has grown exponentially into a powerful grass-roots citizens’ movement. We do not have all the answers, but we do have a plan. We are adopting a new approach: bringing a new perspective: a new way to help in the fight against homelessness.

This is our first year. We intend to engage the people of Vancouver directly in the fight against homelessness. As part of that fight, we are working to raise funds to provide safe, clean, affordable housing for people who do not have it. Not at some indefinite time in the future, but now. By harnessing the energy, creativity and collective will of the citizens of Vancouver, we can begin to End Homelessness Now.

Meet the Founder and Organizing Committee

Vancouver Film School helps bring attention to Gratitude Week with their skills and passion